Top Ten Posts – 2011

To reflect on 2011, I have listed here the ten most popular posts in terms of visits this year. Two of the posts were written in prior years but were visited frequently this year. In addition to being popular, I think they are representative of the stories and issues which I wrote about this year.

1. The Trail of Tears remembered

2. Uganda update: Anti-Homosexuality Bill on tomorrow’s agenda

3. Committee chair says Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill may not be considered

4. What would dominionists do with gays?

5. A major study of child abuse and homosexuality revisited (2009)

6. NARTH is not primarily composed of mental health professionals

7. Only the gay die young: Examining the claims of shorter life expectancy for homosexuals (2007)

8. The evangelical blackout of research on sexual orientation

9. William Penn founded the Quakers and other tall tales from David Barton

10. Was the Jefferson Bible an evangelism tool?

Christian Post blog removed over reaction to article on Mitt Romney; Can Romney get fair coverage from Christian media?

The following is an article I wrote on August 16 and posted on The Way I See It Blog hosted by the Christian Post. Within a few hours, the post was removed from the website and I was denied access to my blog. You can still get to my articles on Christian Post if you use their search engine. However, all of my blog posts on The Way I See It blog have been delisted from the blog page.
The reason given by Michelle Vu, managing editor, for removing my article, dropping me as a writer, and delisting all of my past blogs was that I had disrespected their news staff by writing about the August 15 article before they had a chance to address it. I did contact them prior to writing the article but the editors felt I had not given them adequate time to response. Since then, I have been in contact with the CP managing editors to resolve the situation but there has been no change.
This is distressing to me. I have written for Christian Post since near the beginning of the website. In 2004, I wrote a benediction for the initial print run of CP. Until recently, I was listed on their website as a senior editorial consultant.
I will acknowledge that the title of the piece was more inflammatory than necessary. However, the editors of CP did not disagree with my analysis or that the Romney campaign or a Romney supporter should have been allowed to comment.
Having read additional coverage of the campaign at CP since mid-August, I do wonder if CP leans toward Perry (or at least away from Romney). In a fairly balanced piece on Wednesday, CP Executive Editor Richard D. Land was quoted raising Romney’s Mormonism as a concern for voters to consider. The article did not disclose that Land is the Executive Editor of CP but cited instead his role with the Ethics and Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptists. And Perry’s Ponzi Scheme comments about Social Security were sympathetically analyzed in this piece. As far as I know, the piece attacking Romney on social issues has not been addressed.
I suspect many readers will see this as inside baseball. I decided to go with this because of a broader question: Will Mitt Romney be able to get fair coverage from Christian media? Some evangelicals support Romney (at this moment in time, myself included) but he is battling a considerable establishment that may include the sources from which many Christians get their information.
Some readers may disagree with my approach; I encourage you to speak your opinion. Here is the blog in question. To evaluate this piece you will also need to read the original article:
……
Christian Post runs hit piece on Mitt Romney
(posted on CP August 16, 2011)
Yesterday, the Christian Post’s politics editor, Paul Stanley posted an article sharply critical of current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney based on a book by Mass Resistance’s Amy Contrada. The book purports to uncover Mitt Romney’s positions on social issues which, according to Contrada, demonstrates that Romney is “not a constitutionalist nor is he a man of deeply rooted values.”
In my view, the article comes across as an attack on Mr. Romney and did a disservice to CP readers in several ways. First, the article presented Contrada’s book as a new release, when in fact the book was released in February of this year. Why is CP just now running an article on the charges Contrada makes, implying that these are new or newly discovered?
Second, CP does not provide any context to help readers assess the stance of the author or the actual positions held by Romney. Amy Contrada is a writer for Mass Resistance, a group that has been at odds with Romney politically for years and one that is listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to their incendiary rhetoric towards gays as a class of people. Many conservatives dismiss the SPLC but nonetheless, in an objective article, the fact would be noted. Romney would not be considered pro-gay by any gay activist, but because he is not sufficiently anti-gay for Mass Resistance, he has been a target of their ire.
An illustration will help. Contrada contends that Romney has not condemned same-sex marriage as immoral. Quoted by Stanley she says,

I examined every statement I could find that he [Romney] made about homosexuality and nowhere could I find where he condemned same-sex marriage. He will never call it immoral. Every Mormon I know personally … the rank and file Mormons … I know … are very clearly opposed to homosexuality and see it as a moral issue. The church on the other hand seems to be a bit wishy-washy on the issue. I think Romney is the same way and wants to please everybody by playing every issue down the middle.”

Contrada wants Romney to not only oppose same-sex marriage, she wants him to morally condemn gays who want to form unions. Romney spoke to this issue to the Associated Press several years ago, saying

“I don’t think that a person who’s running for a secular position as I am should talk about or engage in discussions of what they in their personal faith or their personal beliefs is immoral or not immoral,”

In the same interview, Romney repeated his opposition to gay marriage but believes that all should be treated with respect.

“I oppose discrimination against gay people,” Romney said. “I am not anti-gay. I know there are some Republicans, or some people in the country who are looking for someone who is anti-gay and that’s not me.”
He said he is opposed to gay marriage because it’s not in the best interest of children.

Shouldn’t CP readers have this context?
Romney’s position is similar to the stance that Ronald Reagan took as California governor and then later as President. In California, Reagan opposed the Briggs Amendment which would have allowed schools to fire or refuse to hire gay teachers. As President, Reagan was on record opposing job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Finally, the CP article does not bring in any contrasting view of Romney’s positions from any other observers, nor as far as I can tell, sought comment from the Romney campaign.
In short, this article, if published at all, should have been better placed in the Opinion section of CP. As it is, the piece probably hurts Romney with evangelical voters unaware of the context of his views and definitely hurts the perception of CP’s objective reporting with those who do. Through the campaign, I hope that CP will do a better job of providing balance in future articles.
………
 

New York Times on therapy for sexual identity concerns

The New York Times Magazine will have a lengthy print article on sexual identity concerns, especially among evangelical gays this sunday. The well-written article by Mimi Swartz is now up online at this link.
I have been away for several days and won’t be able to comment much under Sunday or Monday, but I think she did a nice job of bringing together several lines of thinking which led to the sexual identity management/therapy approach to handling sexual identity concerns.  Her descriptions of the sexual identity therapy framework start about here and are woven throughout the later part of the article.
The one aspect of the piece I don’t like is the title – Living the Good Lie. We do not encourage this and in fact advocate for acceptance, even if that acceptance is not with approval. More on that when I can reflect a bit more…

US State Department condemns Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Again.
From CNN:

Washington (CNN) — The State Department Thursday condemned a proposed bill in the Ugandan parliament that could make engaging in homosexual acts a capital offense punishable by death. The bill may be debated Friday by the Ugandan parliament.
“No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. “Both (President Barack Obama) and (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations.”

NPR's Tell Me More discusses Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

David Bahati will be on at the top of the show, Tell Me More. I will be on sometime after that to discuss the recent happenings in Uganda regarding the AHB.
To listen, go to the website (or here to listen live) and find where it airs in your neck of the woods. It will be archived later today as well.
There is also an interesting article out this morning at the Daily Beast  quoting yours truly.

CNN: A Christian’s response to anti-gay bullying

Dan Gilgoff’s CNN Belief Blog published my article on anti-gay bias involved in recent bullying related suicides. I am allowed to print a little bit and then link to the rest. I hope you’ll read, recommend, and discuss it at both places…

This week marks the beginning of the 5th annual National Bullying Prevention Month. Tragically, this comes just at the time when the nation is mourning the recent suicides of three young teens, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and Seth Walsh. Although each situation was a little different, a common denominator was that a central feature of the harassment the boys experienced was anti-gay name-calling.

 

Sadly, these boys join a string of other suicide victims who’d been subjected to anti-gay bias.

These tragedies have heightened the attention of the public on an already contentious debate about how to prevent anti-gay harassment. While everyone agrees that such bullying is harmful and must be addressed, not all agree about the means to that end.

…..

My view is that evangelicals need to put ideological worries aside and become part of the solution.

I go on to describe how churches and schools in Grove City are working together to combat bullying and recommend that adults put the culture war aside for the good of children.

By the way, I am not ignoring Tyler Clementi. I wanted to focus in this article on young teens in public schools.

Previous related articles:

Sexual Identity Therapy Framework resources

Peter LaBarbera today reprints Laurie Higgins critique of an article by Mark Yarhouse regarding the application of our sexual identity therapy framework (SITF). I am aware he does not mean to promote the framework but his articles have increased my emails about the framework and requests for referrals to therapists who practice in that manner. I refer them to the registry of practitioners who claim to use the SITF at the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. However, a quick look will confirm that many areas of the country are unrepresented there. This area clearly needs to be developed.

Those affiliated with ISSI include people working in several graduate programs in counseling and we aware of other programs who inform students about the SITF. By far, the largest organization that offers information regarding the SITF is the American Association of Christian Counselors. Mark and I presented a preconference workshop at the 2007 AACC conference titled, Introduction and Clinical Application of the Sexual Identity Therapy Guidelines.”  A 3 CD set of that workshop is available on the AACC website. In 2008, Mark presented the SITF at the AACC West Region conference. A audio of that workshop is also available on the AACC website.

The website supporting the SITF is www.sitframework.com. There we have posted articles consistent with the SITF and a list of presentations regarding it. On YouTube, there is a two part demonstration of how I worked with BBC reporter David Akinsanya in 2005. Akinsanya had just left Love in Action early because he felt it did not fit him and his values. This interview was conducted in 2005 as the SITF was being developed. 

Wall Street Journal reporter has followed the development of the SITF with a 2007 article in the LA Times and then a 2009 piece in the Wall Street Journal. Wikipedia has an entry on the SITF. The APA’s 2009 sexual orientation task force cited the SITF favorably as a means for clients to therapeutically explore their options.

Much needs to be done to develop the model and describe how existing models are applied with it. Between us, Mark and I have trained several hundred mental health and ministry professionals in the model and look forward to providing more opportunities for supervision and training.

2009: Top ten stories

In the past, I have done a lengthly review. No time for that this year, so here goes…

1. Uganda‘s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – What else? Click the link to read all of the posts on the top two stories, including several exclusive stories and interviews. This guest post by author Jeff Sharlet is one of the most visited posts ever. This story may be the #1 story in 2010 as well. Check out the Facebook group, now with nearly 14,000 members.

2. Uganda’s ex-gay conference – The March conference did not create the Anti-homosexuality Bill but it seems to have been a strategic move by organizers to create  a perception that the bill was needed.

3. APA Task Force report – The American Psychological Association released the long awaited report on therapeutic responses involving sexual orientation. The report recognized the difference between sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity, noted the importance of religious congruence in therapy and cited the sexual identity therapy framework favorably. A nice Wall Street Journal article featuring my work on sexual identity therapy was one result.

4. Kevin Jennings controversy – What goes around comes around. At least in the case of my reporting on Obama’s Department of Education appointee, Kevin Jennings, the old saying seems true. An audio mp3 of Mr. Jennings in 2000 disclosing a meeting with who he said at the time was a 15 year old student was on my website long before he was appointed to the administration.  The matter became a major political story which continues to the present and led to a statement from Mr. Jennings that he should have handled the situation with Brewster/Robertson (his student) differently.

5. Golden Rule Pledge – Another issue, another Facebook group. The annual Day of Silence brought another call from far right social conservative groups to boycott schools. Some evangelical students chose to participate in the Golden Rule Pledge or join with same-sex attracted students in pledging a safe school.

6. The Pink Swastika – An offshoot of reporting on the Uganda ex-gay conference was an exploration of the claims of Scott Lively that homosexuality animated the German Nazi party during WWII. Aided by Grove City College historian, J.D. Wynekin, I did multiple posts exposing the factual errors and misleading aspects of the book, The Pink Swastika. In the process, NARTH, Exodus, and Campus Crusade for Christ pulled web references to The Pink Swastika and Mr. Lively’s theories.

7. Change versus congruence – A repeated discussion on the blog relates to useful paradigm’s in sexual identity ministry. Should change of orientation be the focus of a Christian approach or should congruence of behavior with chosen beliefs be the focus? A popular post which triggered much conversation was a reflection on the APA sexual orientation report, “Thoughts on the status of the Reorientation Wars.”

8. The brief love affair of the Christian right with Carrie Prejean – I had a hard time understanding it and said so.

9. Mankind Project goes transparent – As the result of reporting by the Houston Press and here and elsewhere, the Mankind Project decided to reveal more of what takes place during the New Warriors Training Adventure. The info is still buried deeply on their website but there has been some movement toward letting people know what they are getting into before they attend.

10. Research reports- This is a category which acknowledges that when research comes along, I try to get a closer look with occasional interviews which feature prominent researchers (e.g., J. Michael Bailey). Also, important to me is an ongoing focus on reparative drive theory and the problems with it.

There were other popular posts including David Blakeslee’s “What Happened Yesterday” (about the Fort Hood shootings) that don’t rise to the level of these stories for this blog either because I didn’t cover it or because it was an isolated post. I considered the Ohio voter fraud story for the top ten since I broke a lot of that material in 2008 but there was little interest in it when the convictions came down.

So what did I miss? Happy 2010!

The APA report and the sexual identity therapy framework

The recent American Psychological Association task force report on sexual orientation and psychotherapy included several positive references to the SITF. I have archived those on the SITF website and am providing two here with brief commentary.

The abstract of the sexual identity therapy framework (SITF) says

Sexual identity conflicts are among the most difficult faced by individuals in our society and raise important clinical, ethical and conceptual problems for mental health professionals. We present a framework and recommendations for practice with clients who experience these conflicts and desire therapeutic support for resolution. These recommendations provide conceptual and empirical support for clinical interventions leading to sexual identity outcomes that respect client personal values, religious beliefs and sexual attractions. Four stages of sexual identity therapy are presented incorporating assessment, advanced informed consent, psychotherapy and sexual identity synthesis. The guidelines presented support the resolution of identity conflicts in ways that preserve client autonomy and professional commitments to diversity.

 

I think the APA report and the SITF are compatible in many important ways.  They both recognize the difference between attractions, behavior and identity. They both recognize that informed consent is critical and that client may seek congruence with other aspects of personality, other than sexual desire, a distinction made in this segment from page 18 of the APA report: Continue reading “The APA report and the sexual identity therapy framework”

Blog post at US News & World Report: Does the APA advise a church switch?

Here’s the blog post over at Dan Gilgoff’s US News and World Report blog, God and Country.

The backdrop: The initial article about the APA sexual orientation and therapy report to hit the wire was by David Crary at the AP. However, some (many?) papers truncated the article in such a way that it seemed as though the APA was recommending either celibacy or a church switch as a way to resolve sexual orientation conflict.

Not long afterwards, OneNewsNow picked up that point and ran with it. From the US News blog post:

A news report from OneNewsNow, the information arm of the American Family Association, said the APA report “suggests that if a person with same-gender attractions has problems because of their religious beliefs, they should just change churches.” About the APA report, spokesperson for the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and executive director of Evergreen International, a ministry to homosexuals of the LDS Church, David Pruden, told OneNewsNow:

“The suggestion was as a Christian, when your conscience comes in conflict with what’s going on in your life — temptations, attractions, concerns, whatever they happen to be — that what you simply do is jettison your standards so that it becomes easier to live with your temptations.”

Both OneNewsNow and Mr. Pruden stand by their statements. But is it accurate to say that the APA report advises that conflicted people switch churches or “jettison” beliefs?

Of course it is not accurate. In the US News & World Report post, I quote Rhea Farberman who directly denies the claim. I then quote from the APA report which finds benefit in social support groups even if not gay affirming.

This is not to say that the APA discourages someone from changing churches if the client feels it is best. I suspect this goes in any direction. For instance, a client might decide to leave a gay affirming church if this seemed more in keeping with identity development. According to this report, psychologists would not try to prevent such a move, but neither would they encourage it.

I approached both NARTH and OneNewsNow with no change.